Thursday, August 12, 2010

Know your options: vintage, thrift, consignment, or resale?

Notice there were a ton of posts last week, and bupkis until now this week?  I can't even post a day-of-the-week feature on the appropriate day.  We (meaning I) have a good excuse: we were up until many cracks of dawn this past weekend launching TBD, so your girl blogger is a bit fried and frazzled.  So without further ado, I present to you Shannan's latest exceptional bits of advice.

Now that you’ve decided why you’re thrift shopping, the next step is to research where to shop.  But in order to do that, you must be aware of the different types of stores that deal in used items. 

You can’t imagine the number of times I have people come in to Junction and ask if I am a consignment shop.  When I tell them no, the next question is “So everything here is new?”  When I tell them no, the next question is “So you take donations?”  When I tell them no, the next question is…This goes on and on, even after I explain that I am a vintage and resale boutique. 

Following is a list of important terms for a savvy thrifter:

Thrift shop:  A shop that sells used articles that usually have been donated as to benefit a charitable organization.  An example of this is the Salvation Army.  A thrift shop can also be referred to as a charity, hospice, opportunity or *resale shop. 

Most thrift shops are organized by department and sometimes size and/or color.  But in order to find that “diamond in the rough”, you should be prepared to do some digging.  But all that work could be well worth it when you uncover your pièce de résistance for about 5-10 percent of its original selling price. 
Consignment shop:  A store that sells secondhand items on behalf of the original owner, who receives a percentage of the selling price.
These stores are usually clean, well organized, and carry seasonal current styles.  I find that consignment shops are great places to find a new party dress or a business suit for a job interview.  You won’t pay top dollar for these finds, but you’ll probably end up spending about 40-50 percent of its original selling price.  
Vintage clothing: A generic term for new or second hand garments originating from a previous era, usually referring to clothing from the 1920s to the 1980s. 
Antique clothing: Usually refers to clothing which was produced before the 1920s.

*Resale:  This can be a tricky word because it is a term that applies to all of the above.  According to, resale is defined as follows: noun:  the act of selling a second time adjective: used; secondhand: a rack of resale clothing.   

When researching resale shops in your area, make sure to differentiate whether it’s thrift or consignment. 

Now you’re ready to find local stores in your area.  Check out the yellow pages, online search engines, church listings, blogs, etc.  And make sure to use all the new terms you learned to find the hidden gems in your neighborhood.  
-Shannan Fales is the owner of Junction at 1510 U Street NW. She shares her expertise in vintage and thrift each Tuesday (or whenever your girl blogger gets a breath and has time to post. Our apologies to Shannan.)


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